NBC Universal cancels talkshow

NBC Universal Domestic TV Distribution has canceled rookie syndicated talker “The Megan Mullally Show” and will try to hold on to the time periods by offering three potential replacements: a new daily hour called “iVillage Live,” reruns of Bravo’s “Queer Eye” and library hours of the syndicated “Starting Over,” which NBC U canceled early last year.

“Megan” is the first major cancellation of the 2006-07 season. While NBC’s salespeople fan out across the country to lock up a successor, Twentieth TV is likely to engineer a full-court press to sell new syndie talker “The Morning Show With Mike and Juliet” to non-NBC-owned TV stations.

The timing works for “Morning Show” because it begins on the Fox-owned stations Jan. 22, five days before Mullally’s final telecast on Jan. 26.

The low ratings of “Megan” made her demise a foregone conclusion. Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for Katz TV, which represents hundreds of TV stations, said the November rating books didn’t show enough promise for NBC to keep the show going into the February sweeps.

The poor Nielsens also caused some “Megan” stations to downgrade the show to weaker time periods. “When celebrity-driven talkshows get downgrades,” Carroll said, “it becomes tougher for them to book good guests.”

NBC also plans to encourage second-run options for “Megan” stations that carry other NBC syndie product like “Access Hollywood,” “The Maury Povich Show” and “The Jerry Springer Show.” If the station schedules an extra daily run of one or more of these shows, NBC will benefit financially because it keeps a number of commercial minutes within each episode to sell nationally.

Twentieth planned to pitch “The Morning Show,” co-hosted by Mike Jerrick and Juliet Huddy, to non-Fox-O&Os for a fall start, offering it sooner to stations that push hard for an earlier window. The disappearance of “Megan” should keep Twentieth’s phones ringing over the next 10 days leading up to the NATPE convention in Las Vegas (Jan. 15-18).

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